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Polish villagers hold Jewish wedding without Jews – The Jerusalem Post

Nostalgia for Jews is a well-documented phenomenon in Eastern Europe, with cultural and even substantial commercial aspects.

In Ukraine, so-called Jewish-themed restaurants with pork-heavy menus compete for tourists, while figurines of Jews are sold at markets as good luck charms. In Poland, graffiti reading I miss you, Jew have become a common sight.

Beyond the kitsch, Jewish cultural festivals draw large non-Jewish audiences in Krakow, Warsaw and Budapest.

Some credit this trend to a feeling of loss over the near annihilation of once-vibrant Jewish communities. Others trace it a desire to reconnect with the pre-Soviet past.

But even against this backdrop, the fake Jewish wedding that was held Saturday in the village of Radzanw, 80 miles northeast of Warsaw, stands out as a remarkable affair.

Make-believe Jewish weddings a regular educational event in Spain and Portugal, where nostalgia for nearly-extinct Jewish communities is also prevalent are rare in Poland (locals in the village of Bobowa organized one in 2013). Even rarer are enactments as well-produced as the one in Radzanow.

Organized by the Radzanovia Association, a cultural group promoting Polish heritage, the event featured a few dozen non-Jewish volunteers, men and women, dressed in traditional haredi costumes. Some men wore fake beards and side curls including ones that didnt match their natural hair color.

Portraying the groom was Piotr Czaplicki, a journalist for the Radia dla Ciebie station. Czaplicki, who is not Jewish, got under a chuppah the canopy used in traditional Jewish weddings together with his make-believe bride, Julia Brzeziska, a local resident. They were wed by a fake rabbi in a show before villagers, whom the events organizers sought to teach about Jewish traditions.

To Jonny Daniels, the London-born founder of From the Depths, which promotes Holocaust commemoration in Poland, events like the one in Radzanw are some kind of therapy taking place all over the country.

“Literally hundreds of Jewish cultural festivals are taking place, more often than not with no Jews involved. Poland too has the highest rate of Hebrew language studies in all of Europe,” Daniels continued to The Jerusalem Post. “I truly believe that the third and fourth generation of Poles since the Holocaust are starting to see how much Jewish culture is part of modern-day Polish culture — it’s amazing that this heritage created by 3.5 million murdered Jews is still relevant today.”

But the events producer, Agnieszka Rychcik-Nowakowska, sees it as a way of commemorating the hundreds of Jews who had accounted for approximately half of her villages population before the Holocaust.

We want to remember all those homes of all pre-war Jews, who lived a peaceful life punctuated by the rhythm of holidays, family celebrations and more mundane events, she told the news site Nasza Mlawa.

Jews first settled in Radzanw in 1710, and at their peak numbered about 500. By September 1939, when the Germans took over, the population had dipped below 300. Nearly all who remained would be sent to the Mlawa ghetto, never to return.

We remember those who lived here before us and entered the memory of our grandmothers and grandparents. It was so recently, said Rychcik-Nowakowska.

Elsewhere in Europe, Jewish-themed festivals are more common , bringing together hundreds of participants. There too, Jewish-themed events are held in the absence of a living, breathing Jewish community thanks to nostalgia and a desire to generate tourism revenue.

But in Spain and Portugal, for example, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were oppressed 500 years ago during the Inquisition, the passage of time has made goodwill gestures toward Jews less complicated than in the east. In 2013, Spain and Portugal even passed laws granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews a move whose generosity contrasts sharply with the refusal by Poland and other East European countries to offer even partial restitution for property that was stolen from Jewish communities.

At the fake wedding in Radzanw, organizers turned to Teresa Wroska, an actress from the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, to assure the weddings authenticity. She choreographed the entire affair from the signing of the ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) to the traditional Jewish music played by a band of locals and musicians from the capital.

Even the POLIN Jewish museum of Warsaw was consulted in staging the event, according to Nasza Mlawa.

The wedding is not the only attempt by Radzanw locals to reconnect with their villages lost Jewish heritage. Last year, a high school student from the region, Cuba Balinski, initiated a project aimed at rededicating and reopening the villages abandoned synagogue a small but beautiful Moorish-style building that miraculously survived the Nazi occupation.

Balinski, who has secured the cooperation of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland for his project but is still looking for investors, is adamant about restoring the synagogue to a house of worship rather than having it turn into museum.

If there is no Torah in the synagogue, than it is still just a building, he told the news site Gosc Plocki. But if we bring the holy book back, it will come back to life.

Jpost staff contributed to this story.

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Polish villagers hold Jewish wedding without Jews – The Jerusalem Post

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All you need is love – The Jerusalem Post

Taking a trendy yesteryear adjectival leaf out of the lingo of the day, the epithet fab easily springs to mind on visiting The Beatles exhibition currently in full delightful flow at the Israel Childrens Museum in Holon. The exhibition, which goes by the name The Magical Mystery Tour, is everything you could hope for from a visual, aural and tactile display of memorabilia and cleverly crafted accessories devoted to the worlds most famous pop group.

The tour starts out with a short movie that gets you in the mood.

It conveys the spirit and sounds of the Fab Four and the zeitgeist of 1960s Britain through subtle musical editing and interweaving animation with real-life film footage. The movie takes you on a whistle stop tour of the bands evolution personally and musically. You follow the temporally brief, but conceptually expansive, continuum from the early rock n roll monochrome days of matching suits and babyfaced smiles through to the psychedelically scented polychromatic hippie era of long hair and substance-affected creativity. Not that the latter is alluded to in the film per se.

This is designed to get everyone on board people who are into The Beatles and people who have no idea about them, explains exhibition director Tali Shemer.

It is a bit difficult to believe there is anyone on the planet who is unaware of The Beatles, but perhaps that is my Western cultural upbringing coming into play.

There are some people who dont know about them, she continues. But whether the visitors know about them or not, they still leave the exhibition with an enriching experience and lots of knowledge.

She and museum content manager Tal Rubinstein put a lot of effort into getting the project off the ground.

We worked on this for two years, she notes.

The exhibition venture, to paraphrase a certain Beatles number, got by with a little help from a generous friend. Just when Shemer was about to give up on the dream, Russian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin came into the frame and picked up the tab.

That really saved us, says Shemer. We thought this was all going to remain just a great idea we had, until Leonid came along.

For my generation, the music of The Beatles and The Beatles themselves were the basic values, says 57-year-old Nevzlin. The Beatles were a symbol of freedom, creativity and love. That was why it was so important for me to convey my love and admiration to my children and to the children of Israel.

The exhibition is designed for all comers aged five to 99. As someone who tends to the upper end of that age spectrum, I can vouch for its appeal. Mind you, I did get some of The Beatles vibe of the era back in 1960s northern Britain, but The Magical Mystery Tour is so well devised, it could probably get a Martian into the Fab Four groove.

There is much to marvel at visually, but there is also plenty to get into in the hands-on sense. How many of us have ever been to a recording studio? How many of us have, for example, ever seen a sitar, let alone touched one? That can be experienced firsthand in the studio incorporated in the Holon layout. It includes a drum kit, electric guitars, a violin-shaped bass guitar, similar to the famous Hofner model used by Paul McCartney, and a sitar that George Harrison brought to The Beatles musical modus operandi in the mid-1960s.

The staged facility is accessed via a corridor with faux red brick walls, adorned with a slew of black-andwhite prints of the group members and some of their professional colleagues, with the sign Abbey Road on one side. And if having actual musical instruments within hands reach werent enough, there is a huge 24-track mixer console on the other side of the studio window.

Visitors can move the volume knobs (faders) up and down to get an idea of how the recording engineer plays around with the individual instrumental lines. Fancy hearing how McCartney played his bass part? No problem. Want to add some backing vocals and maybe Ringos drumming? Just move all the faders to zero, and then push up the respective buttons to the volume you want.

There is plenty in the way of historical facts on offer as well, to get the visitor into the right place in the 20th century commercial music timeline. One room is full of archival photographs, milestones in the groups evolution across the years, from 1962 through to 1970, when the Fab Four, for all intents and purposes, broke up. The visual esthetics are greatly enhanced by some evocative garb, including the sumptuous threads worn by McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr for the iconic cover of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band album, which came out in 1967.

The accent on The Magical Mystery Tour is very much on getting stuck in. There are interactive slots right across the board, including a general knowledge quiz about the four Beatles, and kids can actually get up close to a record player.

When they get here, the guide asks the children how they listen to music, Shemer explains, on their cell phone, on YouTube or iPad.

Then the guide shows them how people once listened to music and puts the [Beatles] LP on.

There is also a room where kids, and parents and grandparents, can don Beatles suits from the early days or from the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper style coats, getting on a stage and play a Beatles song.

The gig is videoed against a green screen backdrop, unbeknown to the performers, who later get to see themselves in action.

Naturally, the visitors get to hear lots of Fab Four sounds as they make their way through the exhibition, which culminates with a lovely creative activity. The last room has a large screen on one wall and a number of stations with small screens and headphones.

We took clips of people from all over the world of all ages playing All You Need Is Love we asked their permission to use them and kids can take excerpts from each version and put together their own clip of the whole song, says Shemer. You can see how music and the music of The Beatles connects people from all kinds of cultures.

It also helps Israelis of all ages to bond with each other and with the timeless music of the Fab Four.

The Magical Mystery Tour exhibition is on display at the Israel Childrens Museum in Holon. For more information: (03) 650-3000 and www.childrensmuseum.org.il

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Israeli Supreme Court Trims Sentence of 13-year-old Behind Jerusalem Stabbing Attacks – Haaretz

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Ahmed Manasra will now serve nine and a half years, not 12, for his role in the stabbing of another 13-year-old and a yeshiva student in 2015

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Israeli Supreme Court Trims Sentence of 13-year-old Behind Jerusalem Stabbing Attacks – Haaretz

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At 70, Jerusalem’s Jewish Studies ‘Olympics’ still a good brain workout – The Times of Israel

Seventy years ago, the first World Congress of Jewish Studies at Jerusalems Hebrew University embodied the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Yocheved Herschlag Muffs. But that was not because of its first-class scholarship: When immigration to British Mandatory Palestine was blocked, the congress offered the New Yorker an unlikely way into the Holy Land.

There were no visas; we couldnt get there, to Palestine, the 90-year-old told The Times of Israel this week. And so a ruse was launched: Muffs would be granted documents allowing her entrance provided she could obtain a letter stating she was a Hebrew teacher sent to the conference by a recognized institution.

There were only two problems: she didnt really know Hebrew and she wasnt a teacher at a recognized institution.

Muffs, a stalwart member of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, had dropped out of college to learn how to milk cows and clean their excrement during farming training camps in Canada. Many of her cohort did in fact teach Hebrew at least part-time and so had little trouble obtaining the required letter.

But Muffs was stuck.

Yocheved Herschlag Muffs celebrating her recent 90th birthday on August 5, 2017 (Courtesy)

Suddenly, she recalled that her old friend Miriam was the office manager at the new Yeshiva of Central Queens. As a favor, Muffs asked her friend for a letter affirming her affiliation with the institution. But Miriam, devoutly religious and from a pious family, was reluctant to falsify information and asked her mother for advice.

To go to Eretz Yisrael, you can lie, said her mother.

So I got the letter. And then with the letter we went to the British Consulate in New York, in Manhattan. And it was a legitimate letter: I was a teacher there and they were sending me to the conference. And this year its celebrating its 70th year, Muffs said.

Although immigration was definitely not the main goal of the first congress, held in July 1947 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus, it was organized with the help of the Jewish Agency, headed by David Ben-Gurion.

Prime minister David Ben-Gurion addresses the opening session of the 2nd World Congress of Jewish Studies in 1957. (PMO)

At the opening sessions, Bible scholar Naftali Herz Torczyner (Tur-Sinai), head of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University, said, With pride and hesitation, in holy awe and happiness that a cornerstone was laid here for the building of the culture of our nation and our land, we hereby open the First World Congress of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as a foundation stone for a future tradition.

That foundation stone laid back in 1947 has turned into a scholarly empire today. Whereas the first conference saw 75 papers presented, this year there were some 1,700 lecturers. Over 3,000 participants attended the 500 panels held during the week-long event August 6-10.

For many, some of the most important moments of the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem August 6-10, 2017 were in the meeting points between sessions. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Throughout the maze-like compound of the Hebrew Universitys Humanities building, scholars, students and laymen scrambled down its technicolor octagonal halls to take advantage of a multitude of sessions on Bible, language, history, philosophy, literature, archaeology, and many very esoteric subjects relating to the different epochs of the Jewish people.

There was a constant audible buzz of activity as participants darted from one session to another, sometimes even leaving in the middle of a session to catch a more favored scholar elsewhere. With dozens of choices in each time slot, the event was like an academics version of binge-watching on Netflix with an option for childcare.

Held every four years at Hebrew University since the second congress in 1957, it allows for a meeting of minds between established professors and those who wish to walk in their footsteps. It is a place where smiling emeritus professors are given their due honor, while nervous doctoral students reap the benefits of knowledgable critique. As conceived in its inception, the congress is meant to be a safe space to test new ideas and get feedback that is worth hearing.

Fair-like booths at the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on August 6-10, 2017. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

Winding their way around the plethora of fair-like booths hawking books, computer programs, and private learning institutions, Israels finest and internationally known professors floated in and out throughout the week in an atmosphere of semi-controlled chaos. Whether they come for the common areas kibbitz-fest or to present new research, the camaraderie between the scholars was evident. For some, it is the weeks main draw.

Prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (left) and Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek flank Prof. Ephraim Urback at the 10th World Congress of Jerusalem Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 1989. (Tzvika Israeli/PMO)

Inside the cramped classrooms, there were sessions that could be likened to sporting matches. Tempers flared over finer points, or the audience oohed over the presenters mental gymnastics. In poorly climate-controlled rooms with terrible acoustics, in-jokes abounded as scholars in related fields appreciated the most abstruse niche jargon wordplay.

In one session hosted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language, an unresolved impassioned conversation about verb tenses ensued after a presentation about technology soon to be released to the public. In another about Second Temple archaeology, the lecturer and an older participant agreed to disagree on the true basis of why oil lamps changed their form in Judea.

This congress is not for the faint of mind: At two hours a pop, mental stamina is required to fully appreciate each sessions four research papers. Personally, the brain of this reporter no scholar began protesting after two PowerPoint presentations on rarified arcana.

Thats why it was especially refreshing to hear a midday pick-me-up performance on Wednesday of the Piyyut Ensemble of the Ben Zvi Institute, which launched its new CD Arba Otiyot: Sacred Hebrew Songs from the Saharan Maghreb. After a foot-stomping, hand-clapping good time chased by a cup of joe it was back to the books with a clear head for another marathon afternoon in the Jewish Studies Olympics.

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At 70, Jerusalem’s Jewish Studies ‘Olympics’ still a good brain workout – The Times of Israel

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Who murdered the rising Palestinian leader who stood up for his … – Haaretz

skip – googletagmanagerskip – redirectProbability skip – adBlock detector skip – skip – Visual Revenue skip – skip – skip – logo schema for googleskip – infolinks- inread skip – skip – googletagmanagerskip – redirectProbability skip – AddBolcker The Shoafat refugee camp in Jerusalem. Tali Mayer

Baha Nababta fought to improve life in the Shoafat refugee camp, not hesitating to work with Israeli authorities; hope for change in the squalid neighborhood died with him

Despair comes easily in the Shoafat refugee camp. The camp is a neighborhood in eternally unified

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Who murdered the rising Palestinian leader who stood up for his … – Haaretz

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Safe in Jerusalem, Iranian blogger thanks Israel for ‘saving’ her – The Times of Israel

Hours after she arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, Neda Amin, an Iranian-born journalist and dissident who feared being deported to her native country, thanked the Israeli government for granting her refuge, adding that she has Jewish roots and would love to live in Israel.

During a press conference at The Times of Israels Jerusalem offices, Amin who blogged regularly and freelanced for The Times of Israels Persian site described her anguish as she feared Turkey, where she had lived as a refugee since 2014, would deport her back to Iran.

Having written critically about the regime, Amin feared she would have been arrested, tortured, and that her life would have been in danger had she been forced to return to the Islamic Republic.

I am very happy. Israel is my country, she said in broken English, adding that she finally felt safe now because no one wants to attack or arrest her here.

Amin, 32, said she had no immediate plans but indicated that she would seek permanent residence status or citizenship.

In the meantime, I was saved, I was rescued, she said in Persian, speaking through an interpreter. If the Israeli authorities will give me permission, I would love to live here, with all my heart and soul. If not, I will respect their decision.

Amin said her late fathers mother was Jewish and that she always felt sympathetic toward Israel and the Jewish religion.

According to Jewish law, my father is considered Jewish, but according to Muslim law, my father is considered a Muslim. But my father didnt really believe in Islam, so he also learned about Judaism, she said.

My roots are somewhat connected to Judaism. I loved Israel since my youth; I never accepted all the regimes anti-Israel slogans. I always dreamed that I will somehow get to Israel.

Amin said she would love to learn Hebrew, because I believe that I have some sort of connection with Judaism and Israel.

Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her the UN designated her a refugee in 2015 and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf.

When her situation came to my attention, which was only two weeks ago, I spoke to the relevant Israeli authorities and told them about the situation, said Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, who met Amin at the airport earlier on Thursday. I felt that we had an obligation The Times of Israel in particular and the State of Israel in general to help someone who is in trouble partly because of her connection with Israel.

Neda Amin is welcomed by Times of Israels David Horovitz at Ben-Gurion Airport, August 10, 2017 (Times of Israel staff)

She also turned to other countries for help but said they all told her to wait patiently.

The only country that really acted rapidly was Israel, she said. As opposed to all the things that are being said, especially in Iran, about Israel, that it violates human rights, I saw that Israel took steps to keep human rights, to save the life of a human being.

Had she had been deported to Iran, Amin said, she would have been subjected to arrest, torture, rape, and I would have been forced to confess to things I didnt do. People accused of collaborating with the Zionist regime are routinely accused of these things, she continued, and eventually killed. Thats what really scared me.

Most of my family broke off contact of me because of my connection to Israel, she said.

Meanwhile, Turkey told me they would send me to Iran, she added. I was in so much danger, and my life was so difficult, and eventually the State of Israel gave me this place. I am thankful to David [Horovitz] for his help.

Horovitz said he understood Amin felt her life was in danger because she had attacked the regime in Tehran and because Turkey, where she sought asylum, is changing and might kick her out. There was a choice: do nothing, or see if we can save her. I dont think I could have lived with myself if I had found out that she was on a plane back to Iran.

He noted that while he often writes critically about Israel and Israeli politicians, in Amins case Jerusalems actions were praiseworthy. Somebodys life was potentially in danger, and the Israeli authorities did far beyond what would be expected, in my opinion. They made sure that she was able to leave.

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Safe in Jerusalem, Iranian blogger thanks Israel for ‘saving’ her – The Times of Israel

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Hands off women conscripts – The Jerusalem Post mobile website

IDF female soldiers training. (photo credit:COURTESY IDF SPOKESMAN’S OFFICE)

The IDF has long stood out for its conscription of women alongside men into national service, at the age of 18. Iconic photographs of women in battle date back to the Independence War in 1948.

Though for many years after, the army has relegated women soldiers too often to clerical jobs, the past 20 years have seen a boom in female soldiers breaking the armys glass ceiling. Growing numbers of women soldiers are joining combat units, becoming officers and serving on the front line. Women in the fabled Caracal Battalion infantry unit have made headlines in recent years for their role in thwarting terrorist incursions in the South.

Israel has long been proud of its co-ed military and having been among the first countries to induct women into compulsory service. Dual gender service in the IDF is an integral part of who we are. This ethos goes hand in hand with the draft of a cross-section of Israels diverse society, having widened the pool to include more Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox men in recent years. The melting-pot nature of the IDF is a source of national pride, and a characteristic that sets the country apart from its closest ally in Washington. While US President Donald Trump rules out transgender troops for the American army, Israel enjoys the benefit of including LGBT soldiers in its military ranks.

At the same time, in the past 20 years, largely since a landmark High Court ruling entitled women to train as fighter pilots, rising numbers of women have been climbing up the IDFs ranks, and volunteering for the more dangerous or daring combat units that were once solely male. Late last year this newspaper reported a 400% jump in women recruits to combat units over previous years.

All these accomplishments are now under threat, as prominent members of the Orthodox community publicly assail the value of womens service, largely by protesting against the existence of mixed-gender units.

This debate about gender separation is doubly damaging. It is an insult to the women putting their lives on the line in the IDF and it shifts the focus of public debate away from more crucial security concerns. Israelis need to think more about keeping their military inclusive and inducting greater numbers of ultra-Orthodox and Arab citizens.

Its time for a strong public censure of what has become a routine litany of insults against female members of the IDF, insults leveled at them for no other reason than the fact they are women. The denigration of mixed gender units and attempt to discourage other women from enlisting is tantamount to denying the contributions and mocking the sacrifices made by women in their service in the IDF.

Just this past week activists posted a large billboard- looking ad alongside the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, which claims that Israel is stronger without mixed units.

Instead of being feted for their bravery and tenacity, young women risking their lives whether in an underground bunker or lying in ambush or helping to patrol a hostile border have become the butt of billboard campaigns that mock them. What is next? The abolition of female conscription altogether, perhaps? Mixed gender service is what the IDF has always been about. Great gender equality has always been an aspiration of Israeli society and a source of pride. Some critics defend calls for women to avoid the IDF by pointing to incidents of sexual harassment and assault that have taken place on military bases. The IDF has taken steps to address these concerns. These issues, however, plague soldiers of both genders, and civilian life as well, in all parts of society. No social group is immune to this problem. Using it as an excuse for women to avoid the draft is certainly not the answer.

It would be more productive for all concerned parties to press for greater enforcement of the law against sex offenders, both in the military and outside it.

This would do much greater service than campaigning against womens service in the military, which only insults the hundreds of thousands who have stepped forward over the years to serve their country.

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Jerusalem aquarium yet to open amid acclimation setbacks – The Times of Israel

The opening of the new Jerusalem aquarium is being postponed indefinitely, lacking enough viable sea creatures to ensure a good visitor experience.

The still-unopened aquarium has experienced the loss of dozens of fish as well as two sharks, an aquarium representative confirmed.

There is a long process of acclimatization and adaptation for sensitive creatures such as sharks, all of which remain behind-the-scenes in our quarantine area, she said.

There are no shortcuts in the process of populating a new aquarium, said the aquarium in a statement to the press.

Its a long, challenging process, and it takes time, said the aquarium.

A scuba diver in one of the tanks of the still-unopened Jerusalem aquarium (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

The Israel Aquarium, like its parent organization, the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem popularly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo concentrates on the countrys natural niches, with a focus on the marine life of Israeli waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, the Sea of Galilee and even the Dead Sea (despite its name, some living microorganisms can be found there).

The aquariums tanks mimic the various sea systems in Israel, whether showing schools of fish in the shallow waters of the Dor Beach at the Mediterranean Sea, or St. Peters fish in the Sea of Galilee swimming their freshwater tank that includes the black basilica stone of the Tiberias region.

Unfortunately, some of the fish that represent these systems havent survived the transfer to their new home.

The reasons for losing fish can be due to a technical failure, such as a short-circuit, or acclimation difficulties, said the aquarium. Weve also spent a lot of staff time and effort trying to save fish caught as bycatch by fisherman that are not suitable for eating and brought to us.

Dozens of clown fish populate one of the tanks in the Jerusalem aquarium (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

Anyone who is involved in the field knows the difficulty of acclimating fish that sometimes leads to loss of fish during the process, reported the aquarium.

At the same time, the aquarium has also had breeding successes with many endangered species, such as various species of rays and guitarfish.

The aquariums tanks mimic the habitats of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, including this tank tunnel within the facility (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

The Jerusalem Zoo spent much of the last 10 years working on the aquarium, with an investment of NIS 100 million ($28.5 million) from donors and local authorities.

But it wont be opened until it can guarantee standards that offer an excellent visitor experience. The aquariums standards must be high in order to offer a great visitor experience, said the aquarium. Unfortunately, the as-yet unopened facility has experienced a significant financial loss by missing the busy summer season.

Its a reminder of how quixotic this major endeavor was, recreating marine life in landlocked, hilly Jerusalem, as part of the Biblical Zoo complex, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea and even farther from the Red Sea.

Its a challenge to bring this to Jerusalem, said Shai Doron, CEO of Jerusalems Tisch Family Zoo, when he guided a group of journalists through the unopened aquarium in July. We had to do it all from scratch. Were bringing the sea to Jerusalem.

The aquarium is the first of its kind in Israel, and the first public, inland aquarium in the Middle East.

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Jerusalem’s African community stands with Al-Aqsa – Al-Monitor

African migrants take part in a protest opposite the Knesset, Jerusalem, Israel, Jan. 8, 2014.(photo byREUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Author:Aziza Nofal Posted August 9, 2017

RAMALLAH, West Bank As Jerusalemites protested at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosquein July,in rejection of the Israeli decision to install metal detectorsat theholy site,members of the city’s African community offered protesters water and food. They also welcomed worshippers into theirhomes during the protests, as the hub of this communityis located near Al-Aqsa,around the Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis).

TranslatorAl-Monitor

Jerusalem’sAfrican communityis relatively small and consists of nearly 50 families living in the Bab al-Majlis neighborhood of the Old City.The majority of the community comes from countries such asChad, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.Theirancestors came toJerusalem in successive periods, beginning in theOttoman era and continuing into the British Mandate.

Moussa Qaws, a co-founderof the African Community Society in Bab al-Majlis, told Al-Monitor that Africans “immigrated to Palestine for two main reasons: the first is religious and consists of the hajj [to Al-Aqsa Mosque, which often follows the pilgrimage to Mecca]. In fact,Africans who used to make thepilgrimage toJerusalem were rewarded a privileged social status. The second reason is jihad and the [religious] bond [formed] in Jerusalem.

Though Africans first began to visitJerusalem in the Ottoman period, Qaws said they only started settling there in the 1940s, during the British Mandate. Most Africans came to the city as part of the Arab Liberation Army, which included volunteers from various Islamic countries who wanted to help the Palestinians in their fight against the British and the Zionists. Many African members of the armystayed in Jerusalem after the fighting concluded. According to Qaws, Jerusalem’s African community numbers around 750 peopleat present.

Qaws’father came to Palestine from Chad in 1942 to pray atAl-Aqsa Mosque after making the hajjto Mecca. He carrieda French travel document sinceChad was then under French rule. He ended up staying in Jerusalemand marryinga Palestinian woman.

When Jordan controlled East Jerusalem, from1948-1967, the Jordanian government did notgrant citizenship to Africans. Followingthe Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Africans who lived in Jerusalem obtained identity cards.

Once they obtained identity cards, members ofthe African Palestinian community in Jerusalem were forced to travelwitha document known as the laissez-passer. This prevented Qaws and his brothers from visiting their relatives in Chaddue to the country’s nonrecognition of Israel and the absence of diplomatic ties.My father died in 1983, so I went to the French Embassy to ask for [French]nationality,” he said, noting that his father had been a French citizen.”My request was rejected since Chad was no longer a French colony.

Although the African community merged with Jerusalemites and adapted to the city’s way of life, it has kept its own traditions and customs. Qawssaid, Even though we do not come from the same country, we were raised in Jerusalem as members of one family, and we have common traditions that we seekto maintainsuch as those of death and marriage, as well asour shared popular dish ofporridgeknown as Asidathat we eat on special occasions.

These traditions were in part preserved with the help of the African Community Society, which was established in 1983. The society seeks to connect its members to their varied African heritages, especially the youth,and also to introduce tourists in Jerusalem to their traditions.

The economic situation of the African community is no different from the rest of the Old City, where the poverty rate reached 82% in 2014, according to a study by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Members of the city’s African community are generally not landowners in the city; they primarily rent houses.

Ihabal-Jallad, aresearcher on Jerusalem affairs at the Jerusalem Popular Committee,said this community is a central part of the city’s social fabric, whichis composed of many different groups that all acknowledge the sanctity of the city.However, members of the community tend to marry within the community, and can also face discrimination based on their skin color.

Jallad told Al-Monitor that African community members were “famous for their work as guards at the gates ofAl-AqsaMosque over the years.” He said the community does not have any singular political leaders, since members are often affiliated with a diverse range of authorities in Jerusalem.

Many yearshave passed since theAfrican community’s initial arrival inJerusalem. Though they still feel an innate sense of connection to their ancestors’ countries of origin, they have chosen to continue livingin Jerusalem for its sanctity. It is in this tradition of fusion, Qaws said, that the African Community Society has embarked on a new project: to embroider atraditional silk African wedding gown using the stitched embroidery of the Palestinians.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/jerusalem-african-community-culture-al-aqsa.html

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Jerusalem’s African community stands with Al-Aqsa – Al-Monitor

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Polish villagers hold Jewish wedding without Jews – The Jerusalem Post

Nostalgia for Jews is a well-documented phenomenon in Eastern Europe, with cultural and even substantial commercial aspects. In Ukraine, so-called Jewish-themed restaurants with pork-heavy menus compete for tourists, while figurines of Jews are sold at markets as good luck charms. In Poland, graffiti reading I miss you, Jew have become a common sight. Beyond the kitsch, Jewish cultural festivals draw large non-Jewish audiences in Krakow, Warsaw and Budapest. Some credit this trend to a feeling of loss over the near annihilation of once-vibrant Jewish communities. Others trace it a desire to reconnect with the pre-Soviet past. But even against this backdrop, the fake Jewish wedding that was held Saturday in the village of Radzanw, 80 miles northeast of Warsaw, stands out as a remarkable affair. Make-believe Jewish weddings a regular educational event in Spain and Portugal, where nostalgia for nearly-extinct Jewish communities is also prevalent are rare in Poland (locals in the village of Bobowa organized one in 2013). Even rarer are enactments as well-produced as the one in Radzanow. Organized by the Radzanovia Association, a cultural group promoting Polish heritage, the event featured a few dozen non-Jewish volunteers, men and women, dressed in traditional haredi costumes. Some men wore fake beards and side curls including ones that didnt match their natural hair color. Portraying the groom was Piotr Czaplicki, a journalist for the Radia dla Ciebie station. Czaplicki, who is not Jewish, got under a chuppah the canopy used in traditional Jewish weddings together with his make-believe bride, Julia Brzeziska, a local resident. They were wed by a fake rabbi in a show before villagers, whom the events organizers sought to teach about Jewish traditions. To Jonny Daniels, the London-born founder of From the Depths, which promotes Holocaust commemoration in Poland, events like the one in Radzanw are some kind of therapy taking place all over the country. “Literally hundreds of Jewish cultural festivals are taking place, more often than not with no Jews involved. Poland too has the highest rate of Hebrew language studies in all of Europe,” Daniels continued to The Jerusalem Post. “I truly believe that the third and fourth generation of Poles since the Holocaust are starting to see how much Jewish culture is part of modern-day Polish culture — it’s amazing that this heritage created by 3.5 million murdered Jews is still relevant today.” But the events producer, Agnieszka Rychcik-Nowakowska, sees it as a way of commemorating the hundreds of Jews who had accounted for approximately half of her villages population before the Holocaust. We want to remember all those homes of all pre-war Jews, who lived a peaceful life punctuated by the rhythm of holidays, family celebrations and more mundane events, she told the news site Nasza Mlawa. Jews first settled in Radzanw in 1710, and at their peak numbered about 500. By September 1939, when the Germans took over, the population had dipped below 300. Nearly all who remained would be sent to the Mlawa ghetto, never to return. We remember those who lived here before us and entered the memory of our grandmothers and grandparents. It was so recently, said Rychcik-Nowakowska. Elsewhere in Europe, Jewish-themed festivals are more common , bringing together hundreds of participants. There too, Jewish-themed events are held in the absence of a living, breathing Jewish community thanks to nostalgia and a desire to generate tourism revenue. But in Spain and Portugal, for example, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were oppressed 500 years ago during the Inquisition, the passage of time has made goodwill gestures toward Jews less complicated than in the east. In 2013, Spain and Portugal even passed laws granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews a move whose generosity contrasts sharply with the refusal by Poland and other East European countries to offer even partial restitution for property that was stolen from Jewish communities. At the fake wedding in Radzanw, organizers turned to Teresa Wroska, an actress from the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, to assure the weddings authenticity. She choreographed the entire affair from the signing of the ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) to the traditional Jewish music played by a band of locals and musicians from the capital. Even the POLIN Jewish museum of Warsaw was consulted in staging the event, according to Nasza Mlawa. The wedding is not the only attempt by Radzanw locals to reconnect with their villages lost Jewish heritage. Last year, a high school student from the region, Cuba Balinski, initiated a project aimed at rededicating and reopening the villages abandoned synagogue a small but beautiful Moorish-style building that miraculously survived the Nazi occupation. Balinski, who has secured the cooperation of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland for his project but is still looking for investors, is adamant about restoring the synagogue to a house of worship rather than having it turn into museum. If there is no Torah in the synagogue, than it is still just a building, he told the news site Gosc Plocki. But if we bring the holy book back, it will come back to life. Jpost staff contributed to this story. Share on facebook

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All you need is love – The Jerusalem Post

Taking a trendy yesteryear adjectival leaf out of the lingo of the day, the epithet fab easily springs to mind on visiting The Beatles exhibition currently in full delightful flow at the Israel Childrens Museum in Holon. The exhibition, which goes by the name The Magical Mystery Tour, is everything you could hope for from a visual, aural and tactile display of memorabilia and cleverly crafted accessories devoted to the worlds most famous pop group. The tour starts out with a short movie that gets you in the mood. It conveys the spirit and sounds of the Fab Four and the zeitgeist of 1960s Britain through subtle musical editing and interweaving animation with real-life film footage. The movie takes you on a whistle stop tour of the bands evolution personally and musically. You follow the temporally brief, but conceptually expansive, continuum from the early rock n roll monochrome days of matching suits and babyfaced smiles through to the psychedelically scented polychromatic hippie era of long hair and substance-affected creativity. Not that the latter is alluded to in the film per se. This is designed to get everyone on board people who are into The Beatles and people who have no idea about them, explains exhibition director Tali Shemer. It is a bit difficult to believe there is anyone on the planet who is unaware of The Beatles, but perhaps that is my Western cultural upbringing coming into play. There are some people who dont know about them, she continues. But whether the visitors know about them or not, they still leave the exhibition with an enriching experience and lots of knowledge. She and museum content manager Tal Rubinstein put a lot of effort into getting the project off the ground. We worked on this for two years, she notes. The exhibition venture, to paraphrase a certain Beatles number, got by with a little help from a generous friend. Just when Shemer was about to give up on the dream, Russian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin came into the frame and picked up the tab. That really saved us, says Shemer. We thought this was all going to remain just a great idea we had, until Leonid came along. For my generation, the music of The Beatles and The Beatles themselves were the basic values, says 57-year-old Nevzlin. The Beatles were a symbol of freedom, creativity and love. That was why it was so important for me to convey my love and admiration to my children and to the children of Israel. The exhibition is designed for all comers aged five to 99. As someone who tends to the upper end of that age spectrum, I can vouch for its appeal. Mind you, I did get some of The Beatles vibe of the era back in 1960s northern Britain, but The Magical Mystery Tour is so well devised, it could probably get a Martian into the Fab Four groove. There is much to marvel at visually, but there is also plenty to get into in the hands-on sense. How many of us have ever been to a recording studio? How many of us have, for example, ever seen a sitar, let alone touched one? That can be experienced firsthand in the studio incorporated in the Holon layout. It includes a drum kit, electric guitars, a violin-shaped bass guitar, similar to the famous Hofner model used by Paul McCartney, and a sitar that George Harrison brought to The Beatles musical modus operandi in the mid-1960s. The staged facility is accessed via a corridor with faux red brick walls, adorned with a slew of black-andwhite prints of the group members and some of their professional colleagues, with the sign Abbey Road on one side. And if having actual musical instruments within hands reach werent enough, there is a huge 24-track mixer console on the other side of the studio window. Visitors can move the volume knobs (faders) up and down to get an idea of how the recording engineer plays around with the individual instrumental lines. Fancy hearing how McCartney played his bass part? No problem. Want to add some backing vocals and maybe Ringos drumming? Just move all the faders to zero, and then push up the respective buttons to the volume you want. There is plenty in the way of historical facts on offer as well, to get the visitor into the right place in the 20th century commercial music timeline. One room is full of archival photographs, milestones in the groups evolution across the years, from 1962 through to 1970, when the Fab Four, for all intents and purposes, broke up. The visual esthetics are greatly enhanced by some evocative garb, including the sumptuous threads worn by McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr for the iconic cover of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band album, which came out in 1967. The accent on The Magical Mystery Tour is very much on getting stuck in. There are interactive slots right across the board, including a general knowledge quiz about the four Beatles, and kids can actually get up close to a record player. When they get here, the guide asks the children how they listen to music, Shemer explains, on their cell phone, on YouTube or iPad. Then the guide shows them how people once listened to music and puts the [Beatles] LP on. There is also a room where kids, and parents and grandparents, can don Beatles suits from the early days or from the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper style coats, getting on a stage and play a Beatles song. The gig is videoed against a green screen backdrop, unbeknown to the performers, who later get to see themselves in action. Naturally, the visitors get to hear lots of Fab Four sounds as they make their way through the exhibition, which culminates with a lovely creative activity. The last room has a large screen on one wall and a number of stations with small screens and headphones. We took clips of people from all over the world of all ages playing All You Need Is Love we asked their permission to use them and kids can take excerpts from each version and put together their own clip of the whole song, says Shemer. You can see how music and the music of The Beatles connects people from all kinds of cultures. It also helps Israelis of all ages to bond with each other and with the timeless music of the Fab Four. The Magical Mystery Tour exhibition is on display at the Israel Childrens Museum in Holon. For more information: (03) 650-3000 and www.childrensmuseum.org.il Share on facebook

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Israeli Supreme Court Trims Sentence of 13-year-old Behind Jerusalem Stabbing Attacks – Haaretz

Home > Israel News Ahmed Manasra will now serve nine and a half years, not 12, for his role in the stabbing of another 13-year-old and a yeshiva student in 2015 Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter.

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At 70, Jerusalem’s Jewish Studies ‘Olympics’ still a good brain workout – The Times of Israel

Seventy years ago, the first World Congress of Jewish Studies at Jerusalems Hebrew University embodied the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Yocheved Herschlag Muffs. But that was not because of its first-class scholarship: When immigration to British Mandatory Palestine was blocked, the congress offered the New Yorker an unlikely way into the Holy Land. There were no visas; we couldnt get there, to Palestine, the 90-year-old told The Times of Israel this week. And so a ruse was launched: Muffs would be granted documents allowing her entrance provided she could obtain a letter stating she was a Hebrew teacher sent to the conference by a recognized institution. There were only two problems: she didnt really know Hebrew and she wasnt a teacher at a recognized institution. Muffs, a stalwart member of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, had dropped out of college to learn how to milk cows and clean their excrement during farming training camps in Canada. Many of her cohort did in fact teach Hebrew at least part-time and so had little trouble obtaining the required letter. But Muffs was stuck. Yocheved Herschlag Muffs celebrating her recent 90th birthday on August 5, 2017 (Courtesy) Suddenly, she recalled that her old friend Miriam was the office manager at the new Yeshiva of Central Queens. As a favor, Muffs asked her friend for a letter affirming her affiliation with the institution. But Miriam, devoutly religious and from a pious family, was reluctant to falsify information and asked her mother for advice. To go to Eretz Yisrael, you can lie, said her mother. So I got the letter. And then with the letter we went to the British Consulate in New York, in Manhattan. And it was a legitimate letter: I was a teacher there and they were sending me to the conference. And this year its celebrating its 70th year, Muffs said. Although immigration was definitely not the main goal of the first congress, held in July 1947 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus, it was organized with the help of the Jewish Agency, headed by David Ben-Gurion. Prime minister David Ben-Gurion addresses the opening session of the 2nd World Congress of Jewish Studies in 1957. (PMO) At the opening sessions, Bible scholar Naftali Herz Torczyner (Tur-Sinai), head of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University, said, With pride and hesitation, in holy awe and happiness that a cornerstone was laid here for the building of the culture of our nation and our land, we hereby open the First World Congress of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as a foundation stone for a future tradition. That foundation stone laid back in 1947 has turned into a scholarly empire today. Whereas the first conference saw 75 papers presented, this year there were some 1,700 lecturers. Over 3,000 participants attended the 500 panels held during the week-long event August 6-10. For many, some of the most important moments of the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem August 6-10, 2017 were in the meeting points between sessions. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel) Throughout the maze-like compound of the Hebrew Universitys Humanities building, scholars, students and laymen scrambled down its technicolor octagonal halls to take advantage of a multitude of sessions on Bible, language, history, philosophy, literature, archaeology, and many very esoteric subjects relating to the different epochs of the Jewish people. There was a constant audible buzz of activity as participants darted from one session to another, sometimes even leaving in the middle of a session to catch a more favored scholar elsewhere. With dozens of choices in each time slot, the event was like an academics version of binge-watching on Netflix with an option for childcare. Held every four years at Hebrew University since the second congress in 1957, it allows for a meeting of minds between established professors and those who wish to walk in their footsteps. It is a place where smiling emeritus professors are given their due honor, while nervous doctoral students reap the benefits of knowledgable critique. As conceived in its inception, the congress is meant to be a safe space to test new ideas and get feedback that is worth hearing. Fair-like booths at the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem on August 6-10, 2017. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel) Winding their way around the plethora of fair-like booths hawking books, computer programs, and private learning institutions, Israels finest and internationally known professors floated in and out throughout the week in an atmosphere of semi-controlled chaos. Whether they come for the common areas kibbitz-fest or to present new research, the camaraderie between the scholars was evident. For some, it is the weeks main draw. Prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (left) and Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek flank Prof. Ephraim Urback at the 10th World Congress of Jerusalem Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 1989. (Tzvika Israeli/PMO) Inside the cramped classrooms, there were sessions that could be likened to sporting matches. Tempers flared over finer points, or the audience oohed over the presenters mental gymnastics. In poorly climate-controlled rooms with terrible acoustics, in-jokes abounded as scholars in related fields appreciated the most abstruse niche jargon wordplay. In one session hosted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language, an unresolved impassioned conversation about verb tenses ensued after a presentation about technology soon to be released to the public. In another about Second Temple archaeology, the lecturer and an older participant agreed to disagree on the true basis of why oil lamps changed their form in Judea. This congress is not for the faint of mind: At two hours a pop, mental stamina is required to fully appreciate each sessions four research papers. Personally, the brain of this reporter no scholar began protesting after two PowerPoint presentations on rarified arcana. Thats why it was especially refreshing to hear a midday pick-me-up performance on Wednesday of the Piyyut Ensemble of the Ben Zvi Institute, which launched its new CD Arba Otiyot: Sacred Hebrew Songs from the Saharan Maghreb. After a foot-stomping, hand-clapping good time chased by a cup of joe it was back to the books with a clear head for another marathon afternoon in the Jewish Studies Olympics.

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Who murdered the rising Palestinian leader who stood up for his … – Haaretz

skip – googletagmanagerskip – redirectProbability skip – adBlock detector skip – skip – Visual Revenue skip – skip – skip – logo schema for googleskip – infolinks- inread skip – skip – googletagmanagerskip – redirectProbability skip – AddBolcker The Shoafat refugee camp in Jerusalem. Tali Mayer Baha Nababta fought to improve life in the Shoafat refugee camp, not hesitating to work with Israeli authorities; hope for change in the squalid neighborhood died with him Despair comes easily in the Shoafat refugee camp. The camp is a neighborhood in eternally unified

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Safe in Jerusalem, Iranian blogger thanks Israel for ‘saving’ her – The Times of Israel

Hours after she arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, Neda Amin, an Iranian-born journalist and dissident who feared being deported to her native country, thanked the Israeli government for granting her refuge, adding that she has Jewish roots and would love to live in Israel. During a press conference at The Times of Israels Jerusalem offices, Amin who blogged regularly and freelanced for The Times of Israels Persian site described her anguish as she feared Turkey, where she had lived as a refugee since 2014, would deport her back to Iran. Having written critically about the regime, Amin feared she would have been arrested, tortured, and that her life would have been in danger had she been forced to return to the Islamic Republic. I am very happy. Israel is my country, she said in broken English, adding that she finally felt safe now because no one wants to attack or arrest her here. Amin, 32, said she had no immediate plans but indicated that she would seek permanent residence status or citizenship. In the meantime, I was saved, I was rescued, she said in Persian, speaking through an interpreter. If the Israeli authorities will give me permission, I would love to live here, with all my heart and soul. If not, I will respect their decision. Amin said her late fathers mother was Jewish and that she always felt sympathetic toward Israel and the Jewish religion. According to Jewish law, my father is considered Jewish, but according to Muslim law, my father is considered a Muslim. But my father didnt really believe in Islam, so he also learned about Judaism, she said. My roots are somewhat connected to Judaism. I loved Israel since my youth; I never accepted all the regimes anti-Israel slogans. I always dreamed that I will somehow get to Israel. Amin said she would love to learn Hebrew, because I believe that I have some sort of connection with Judaism and Israel. Amin had appealed to the United Nations in Turkey to protect her the UN designated her a refugee in 2015 and had also appealed to human rights organizations and others to intervene on her behalf. When her situation came to my attention, which was only two weeks ago, I spoke to the relevant Israeli authorities and told them about the situation, said Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, who met Amin at the airport earlier on Thursday. I felt that we had an obligation The Times of Israel in particular and the State of Israel in general to help someone who is in trouble partly because of her connection with Israel. Neda Amin is welcomed by Times of Israels David Horovitz at Ben-Gurion Airport, August 10, 2017 (Times of Israel staff) She also turned to other countries for help but said they all told her to wait patiently. The only country that really acted rapidly was Israel, she said. As opposed to all the things that are being said, especially in Iran, about Israel, that it violates human rights, I saw that Israel took steps to keep human rights, to save the life of a human being. Had she had been deported to Iran, Amin said, she would have been subjected to arrest, torture, rape, and I would have been forced to confess to things I didnt do. People accused of collaborating with the Zionist regime are routinely accused of these things, she continued, and eventually killed. Thats what really scared me. Most of my family broke off contact of me because of my connection to Israel, she said. Meanwhile, Turkey told me they would send me to Iran, she added. I was in so much danger, and my life was so difficult, and eventually the State of Israel gave me this place. I am thankful to David [Horovitz] for his help. Horovitz said he understood Amin felt her life was in danger because she had attacked the regime in Tehran and because Turkey, where she sought asylum, is changing and might kick her out. There was a choice: do nothing, or see if we can save her. I dont think I could have lived with myself if I had found out that she was on a plane back to Iran. He noted that while he often writes critically about Israel and Israeli politicians, in Amins case Jerusalems actions were praiseworthy. Somebodys life was potentially in danger, and the Israeli authorities did far beyond what would be expected, in my opinion. They made sure that she was able to leave.

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Hands off women conscripts – The Jerusalem Post mobile website

IDF female soldiers training. (photo credit:COURTESY IDF SPOKESMAN’S OFFICE) The IDF has long stood out for its conscription of women alongside men into national service, at the age of 18. Iconic photographs of women in battle date back to the Independence War in 1948. Though for many years after, the army has relegated women soldiers too often to clerical jobs, the past 20 years have seen a boom in female soldiers breaking the armys glass ceiling. Growing numbers of women soldiers are joining combat units, becoming officers and serving on the front line. Women in the fabled Caracal Battalion infantry unit have made headlines in recent years for their role in thwarting terrorist incursions in the South. Israel has long been proud of its co-ed military and having been among the first countries to induct women into compulsory service. Dual gender service in the IDF is an integral part of who we are. This ethos goes hand in hand with the draft of a cross-section of Israels diverse society, having widened the pool to include more Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox men in recent years. The melting-pot nature of the IDF is a source of national pride, and a characteristic that sets the country apart from its closest ally in Washington. While US President Donald Trump rules out transgender troops for the American army, Israel enjoys the benefit of including LGBT soldiers in its military ranks. At the same time, in the past 20 years, largely since a landmark High Court ruling entitled women to train as fighter pilots, rising numbers of women have been climbing up the IDFs ranks, and volunteering for the more dangerous or daring combat units that were once solely male. Late last year this newspaper reported a 400% jump in women recruits to combat units over previous years. All these accomplishments are now under threat, as prominent members of the Orthodox community publicly assail the value of womens service, largely by protesting against the existence of mixed-gender units. This debate about gender separation is doubly damaging. It is an insult to the women putting their lives on the line in the IDF and it shifts the focus of public debate away from more crucial security concerns. Israelis need to think more about keeping their military inclusive and inducting greater numbers of ultra-Orthodox and Arab citizens. Its time for a strong public censure of what has become a routine litany of insults against female members of the IDF, insults leveled at them for no other reason than the fact they are women. The denigration of mixed gender units and attempt to discourage other women from enlisting is tantamount to denying the contributions and mocking the sacrifices made by women in their service in the IDF. Just this past week activists posted a large billboard- looking ad alongside the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, which claims that Israel is stronger without mixed units. Instead of being feted for their bravery and tenacity, young women risking their lives whether in an underground bunker or lying in ambush or helping to patrol a hostile border have become the butt of billboard campaigns that mock them. What is next? The abolition of female conscription altogether, perhaps? Mixed gender service is what the IDF has always been about. Great gender equality has always been an aspiration of Israeli society and a source of pride. Some critics defend calls for women to avoid the IDF by pointing to incidents of sexual harassment and assault that have taken place on military bases. The IDF has taken steps to address these concerns. These issues, however, plague soldiers of both genders, and civilian life as well, in all parts of society. No social group is immune to this problem. Using it as an excuse for women to avoid the draft is certainly not the answer. It would be more productive for all concerned parties to press for greater enforcement of the law against sex offenders, both in the military and outside it. This would do much greater service than campaigning against womens service in the military, which only insults the hundreds of thousands who have stepped forward over the years to serve their country. Share on facebook

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Jerusalem aquarium yet to open amid acclimation setbacks – The Times of Israel

The opening of the new Jerusalem aquarium is being postponed indefinitely, lacking enough viable sea creatures to ensure a good visitor experience. The still-unopened aquarium has experienced the loss of dozens of fish as well as two sharks, an aquarium representative confirmed. There is a long process of acclimatization and adaptation for sensitive creatures such as sharks, all of which remain behind-the-scenes in our quarantine area, she said. There are no shortcuts in the process of populating a new aquarium, said the aquarium in a statement to the press. Its a long, challenging process, and it takes time, said the aquarium. A scuba diver in one of the tanks of the still-unopened Jerusalem aquarium (Hadas Parush/Flash 90) The Israel Aquarium, like its parent organization, the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem popularly known as the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo concentrates on the countrys natural niches, with a focus on the marine life of Israeli waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, the Sea of Galilee and even the Dead Sea (despite its name, some living microorganisms can be found there). The aquariums tanks mimic the various sea systems in Israel, whether showing schools of fish in the shallow waters of the Dor Beach at the Mediterranean Sea, or St. Peters fish in the Sea of Galilee swimming their freshwater tank that includes the black basilica stone of the Tiberias region. Unfortunately, some of the fish that represent these systems havent survived the transfer to their new home. The reasons for losing fish can be due to a technical failure, such as a short-circuit, or acclimation difficulties, said the aquarium. Weve also spent a lot of staff time and effort trying to save fish caught as bycatch by fisherman that are not suitable for eating and brought to us. Dozens of clown fish populate one of the tanks in the Jerusalem aquarium (Hadas Parush/Flash 90) Anyone who is involved in the field knows the difficulty of acclimating fish that sometimes leads to loss of fish during the process, reported the aquarium. At the same time, the aquarium has also had breeding successes with many endangered species, such as various species of rays and guitarfish. The aquariums tanks mimic the habitats of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, including this tank tunnel within the facility (Hadas Parush/Flash 90) The Jerusalem Zoo spent much of the last 10 years working on the aquarium, with an investment of NIS 100 million ($28.5 million) from donors and local authorities. But it wont be opened until it can guarantee standards that offer an excellent visitor experience. The aquariums standards must be high in order to offer a great visitor experience, said the aquarium. Unfortunately, the as-yet unopened facility has experienced a significant financial loss by missing the busy summer season. Its a reminder of how quixotic this major endeavor was, recreating marine life in landlocked, hilly Jerusalem, as part of the Biblical Zoo complex, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea and even farther from the Red Sea. Its a challenge to bring this to Jerusalem, said Shai Doron, CEO of Jerusalems Tisch Family Zoo, when he guided a group of journalists through the unopened aquarium in July. We had to do it all from scratch. Were bringing the sea to Jerusalem. The aquarium is the first of its kind in Israel, and the first public, inland aquarium in the Middle East.

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Jerusalem’s African community stands with Al-Aqsa – Al-Monitor

African migrants take part in a protest opposite the Knesset, Jerusalem, Israel, Jan. 8, 2014.(photo byREUTERS/Baz Ratner) Author:Aziza Nofal Posted August 9, 2017 RAMALLAH, West Bank As Jerusalemites protested at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosquein July,in rejection of the Israeli decision to install metal detectorsat theholy site,members of the city’s African community offered protesters water and food. They also welcomed worshippers into theirhomes during the protests, as the hub of this communityis located near Al-Aqsa,around the Council Gate (Bab al-Majlis). TranslatorAl-Monitor Jerusalem’sAfrican communityis relatively small and consists of nearly 50 families living in the Bab al-Majlis neighborhood of the Old City.The majority of the community comes from countries such asChad, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.Theirancestors came toJerusalem in successive periods, beginning in theOttoman era and continuing into the British Mandate. Moussa Qaws, a co-founderof the African Community Society in Bab al-Majlis, told Al-Monitor that Africans “immigrated to Palestine for two main reasons: the first is religious and consists of the hajj [to Al-Aqsa Mosque, which often follows the pilgrimage to Mecca]. In fact,Africans who used to make thepilgrimage toJerusalem were rewarded a privileged social status. The second reason is jihad and the [religious] bond [formed] in Jerusalem. Though Africans first began to visitJerusalem in the Ottoman period, Qaws said they only started settling there in the 1940s, during the British Mandate. Most Africans came to the city as part of the Arab Liberation Army, which included volunteers from various Islamic countries who wanted to help the Palestinians in their fight against the British and the Zionists. Many African members of the armystayed in Jerusalem after the fighting concluded. According to Qaws, Jerusalem’s African community numbers around 750 peopleat present. Qaws’father came to Palestine from Chad in 1942 to pray atAl-Aqsa Mosque after making the hajjto Mecca. He carrieda French travel document sinceChad was then under French rule. He ended up staying in Jerusalemand marryinga Palestinian woman. When Jordan controlled East Jerusalem, from1948-1967, the Jordanian government did notgrant citizenship to Africans. Followingthe Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Africans who lived in Jerusalem obtained identity cards. Once they obtained identity cards, members ofthe African Palestinian community in Jerusalem were forced to travelwitha document known as the laissez-passer. This prevented Qaws and his brothers from visiting their relatives in Chaddue to the country’s nonrecognition of Israel and the absence of diplomatic ties.My father died in 1983, so I went to the French Embassy to ask for [French]nationality,” he said, noting that his father had been a French citizen.”My request was rejected since Chad was no longer a French colony. Although the African community merged with Jerusalemites and adapted to the city’s way of life, it has kept its own traditions and customs. Qawssaid, Even though we do not come from the same country, we were raised in Jerusalem as members of one family, and we have common traditions that we seekto maintainsuch as those of death and marriage, as well asour shared popular dish ofporridgeknown as Asidathat we eat on special occasions. These traditions were in part preserved with the help of the African Community Society, which was established in 1983. The society seeks to connect its members to their varied African heritages, especially the youth,and also to introduce tourists in Jerusalem to their traditions. The economic situation of the African community is no different from the rest of the Old City, where the poverty rate reached 82% in 2014, according to a study by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Members of the city’s African community are generally not landowners in the city; they primarily rent houses. Ihabal-Jallad, aresearcher on Jerusalem affairs at the Jerusalem Popular Committee,said this community is a central part of the city’s social fabric, whichis composed of many different groups that all acknowledge the sanctity of the city.However, members of the community tend to marry within the community, and can also face discrimination based on their skin color. Jallad told Al-Monitor that African community members were “famous for their work as guards at the gates ofAl-AqsaMosque over the years.” He said the community does not have any singular political leaders, since members are often affiliated with a diverse range of authorities in Jerusalem. Many yearshave passed since theAfrican community’s initial arrival inJerusalem. Though they still feel an innate sense of connection to their ancestors’ countries of origin, they have chosen to continue livingin Jerusalem for its sanctity. It is in this tradition of fusion, Qaws said, that the African Community Society has embarked on a new project: to embroider atraditional silk African wedding gown using the stitched embroidery of the Palestinians. Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/jerusalem-african-community-culture-al-aqsa.html

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed


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